Care Quality Commission staff vote to strike over pay

In the ballot 73% opted to strike and 92% for action short of a strike.

Staff at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have voted to take strike action over pay, says their union UNISON today (Tuesday).

More than 700 workers were balloted by UNISON, including those in the organisation’s health and social care teams and call centres, along with clerical staff and data analysts.

CQC staff regulate health and social care bodies across England including hospitals, care homes, GP practices and dental surgeries ensuring the safe delivery of services.

Of those who took part in the UNISON vote, 73% opted to strike and 92% for action short of a strike. This means, for example, that staff would only work to their contracts, refusing to do any overtime.

UNISON is one of five unions so unhappy at the pay award imposed this year (2022/23) they decided to ask their members to vote for industrial action.

The five – UNISON, PCS, Prospect, Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Unite – all have strike votes that have either already closed or are about to.

Last December CQC staff were given a pay increase of between 2.75% and 3.5%. The employees also received a one-off payment of either £100 or £150, depending on their grade.

Low or no wage increases over many years, due to the government’s public sector pay restraint, have forced increasing numbers of staff to quit the health and social care regulator. This has left the CQC struggling to fill vacancies, putting the remaining workforce under mounting pressure, says UNISON.

UNISON national officer Matthew Egan said: “CQC staff have had to put up with their pay rising at a much lower rate than inflation for more than a decade.

“Had wages kept pace with prices, employees at CQC would be earning around a quarter more than they are currently.

“Despite doing incredibly important work, staff have endured mounting financial hardship and watched as colleagues have departed for better paid work elsewhere. It’s not hard to see why so many have voted to strike.

“Ministers must give CQC the freedom to negotiate its own pay settlements with unions and allow managers to come back with a much better offer for staff.

“CQC workers take pride in their jobs but have been taken for granted for too long. They earn significantly less than staff doing comparable jobs at organisations like NHS England, Ofsted and the Nursing & Midwifery Council.

“This is despite CQC not relying on government funding. With health and care systems under increasing pressure, it’s time the government recognised the importance of the CQC and its staff and took steps to make sure they’re paid fairly.”